Saturday, July 11, 2009

Carrot

Okay, this is way off the nature sketch path but, I had to share :)

I love carrots: raw, steamed, sauteed, juiced with a bit of celery and apple, you name it..... Yum! Last night I was preparing chicken tacos. I like to add grated carrot as one of the toppers. Out of a brand new bag of carrots came this beauty.

Hmmmmmm, perhaps it's a sign to keep on body sculpting with Gilad on Fit TV :) The carrot has been dangled in front of me...... look at those hips! :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

For the Love of Trees

Vivien Blackburn has posted a Challenge to paint or sketch trees. The sketches must be done from life - my favorite way to sketch and paint :)

I've gathered together a few that I created. The first is the currently blooming, ever beautiful Loblolly Bay. I cut a sprig from this much loved Loblolly Bay to sketch. You can read the original post here. I don't always create decorative type for my journal pages on location but, can surely say the following tree images are all plein air studies.

I can't wait to see everyone's work. This is such a celebration of trees. I must end with a quote......

The trees are God's great alphabet:
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene

Leonora Speyer








Thursday, July 2, 2009

Last Day at Cheraw..... The Dancing Ladies


The weather forecast promised a hot and humid day with a heat index over 100 degrees. We picked up the cart at 7 a.m., and made our way through the woods. The alternate map, Corinna gave me, cut out the narrow bridge of the nature trail. We traversed through more longleaf pine forest. All was very quiet and luckily, our movement kept bugs away. We arrived at our destination around 7:45. The trail ended on a narrow elevated piece of land. Lake Juniper on our left and wetlands on our right. There was a bench in a little clearing. If you deviated from this clearing, horse flies came from every direction! As Rhonda in the park office said, "Oh, they might lick your applied bug spray before they bite....." So true!!

I set my supplies on the bench seat and then stood behind the bench, resting my watercolor paper, small palette and water container on the flat top of the back rest. Great bench design for painting!

The morning sunlight and the humid air muted the colors of the cypress landscape. It would have been great fun to canoe through these dancing ladies........

I managed to get two paintings done before the heat became intolerable. Took lots of photographs :)

It's sad that the week went so quickly. I'm grateful the heat wave didn't arrive until the end of the week. I've a lot of images to cull through when I return home. My plein air work will help me re-capture 'the day' back in the studio. I've photographed so many scenes I want to paint. It may be difficult to pick which painting to give to the park :)

Thank you to all the Cheraw State Park staff! You're so lucky to spend each day in this wonderful location. The park will forever be a part of my heart.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Friday....Painting Day at Cheraw

Yes, a day off to golf helped me decide on a subject, and I became a painting machine! Lake Cherokee stole my heart. A number of views were screaming to be painted but, since the temperature was climbing into the 90's and the humidity rising, a shady spot next to the lake's outlet won.

We arrived at the chosen spot, just below the 14th green, around 10:15. There was a wonderful breeze off the lake (well, really it's a pond) and the shade was divine.

I decided to do two studies of shoreline reflections, at the same time, using traditional watercolors. One on Kilimanjaro 140# cold press wc paper, the other on Arches 140# hot press. It was helpful to work this way, as while one was drying I'd work on the other. Sometimes, I can get a little itchy waiting for watercolors to dry. This was a great solution.



The paintings are on 5.5 x 7.5 sheets. After a bit of working on both, I put most of my energy into the Kilimanjaro CP paper study. The hot press just didn't have the same glow.

After our picnic lunch, Rob decided he'd had enough heat, so I drove him back to the cabin. Upon returning to the same location, the shade was greatly reduced and the reflections weren't nearly as captivating. But, the far shoreline of Lake Cherokee was glowing. I found enough shade, and even though the breeze had died down, I quickly became ensconced along a narrow piece of shaded shoreline.

There was a local golf tournament being played and I had lots of golf traffic coming by this otherwise peaceful setting. Only a few stopped to ask questions. This time I focused on one painting, as my subject matter demanded much more attention. It probably would have been faster to work larger but I often enjoy the challenge of working small. It took about 2.5 hours for painting and drying time between layers but, I'm one happy camper with the results :)



We journeyed out again after dinner. I was high from the day and exhausted by the heat. That's the excuse I'm using for this next sketch :) Yuck! An experiment that I'm embarrassed to show but, I like the subject and am happy with the perspective acheived. Using this particular toned paper with General's sketch and wash pencil and watercolor pencils just didn't work.








Before I forget again.... Everyday we've had the pleasure of Eastern Kingbirds, Tyrannus tyrannus. By far the most seen bird in our travels. This sketch is from our first evening at the park when we were checking out Lake Juniper.

Corinna, the park's Natural Resource manager, was to contact me about taking us down to the cypress swamp on Saturday. She has a boat with a small motor. You can kayak or canoe there but, it takes one hour each way. Not something we wanted to tackle in this heat! When she called, Corinna apologized for not being able to accommodate us but, did have an arial map of trails we could take a golf cart on, that would get us to Lake Juniper's headwaters and cypress swamp. I double check about golf cart worthiness :) Woo Hoo! Cypress Swamp here we come....... tomorrow!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thursday at Cheraw.....Golf Day

The prior three days at Cheraw State Park have been filled with explorations, photographing this beautiful area, and making a few sketches and journal entries. My mind was whirling. Where do I want to paint? Many area's were pulling at me, along with the pressure of only a few days left.

Let's clear our heads! Time for a game of golf on the park's lovely course. Off to the club house we went to pay for our round and get some practice balls for the range. Once again, the red carpet treatment. AIR's do not have to pay for golf. Thank you!!!!!
Here are a few images of the sights, the first being a Common Buckeye butterfly.












This was the warmest day so far. Luckily, for the first nine holes, we had overcast skies. But the back nine brought sunny skies along with some very long yardage on the par fours from the women's tee's - at least for my game. I was more than ready to get back into the artist saddle and paint :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday at Cheraw


Up and out by 6:30 a.m. I wanted to catch early morning light on Lake Juniper. It really is a lovely time of day.

Returned to the cabin for breakfast with my love, then we picked up the golf cart. Because it's the golf course's slow time, we were given full run :) I love golf course scenery.

The park's literature said beavers lived along the right side of the 15th fairway so we checked it out.
We walked in the woods off the right side and came upon a tree with colorful fungus and fungus beetles!



Then, Beaver sign!


We walked back to the fairway and down closer to the green. Off to the right was another small pond with a Cypress stand


Upon closer inspection, we found Beaver houses!









I could resist capturing #15 green on paper. This is watercolor pencils in my Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketch Book. All in all a great morning. Ooooo, and yes, a picnic lunch next to the lake :)

In the afternoon, Rob took a vacation nap and I did more exploring. I love the growth stages of Longleaf Pines. The grass stage reminds me of cousin It on the Adams family :)













And, how about these beauties! Yellow Trumpet Pitcher-plants, Sarracenia flava L. These are begging to be painted!








This journal page contains Wednesday and Thursday sketches. At the very top are a family of Wood Ducks I observed Thursday evening around 7 pm. 10 ducklings! Dad was preening while the kids lead Mom all the way across Lake Juniper. They were feisty little guys and cut a pretty wake across the calm lake.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Adventures at Cheraw

A substantial thunder storm saved us having to get up at the crack of dawn. Ranger Rick Smith advised me that just after dawn is a good time to view the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. I think, no, I know that's why I'm partial to raptors and wading birds. They keep my kind of hours :)

I had asked Rick if he thought we could take the golf cart on the nature trail to get to the nesting area. I really didn't want to tote my pack etc. very far. The words 'out of shape' apply....... A pensive look came over his face but then he said yes, that should be fine.

When the weather cleared we picked up the golf cart at the course and made our way to the nature trail.
We entered the trail and found it was indeed wide enough for the cart. That is, until we came upon a narrow wood plank bridge type structure that went over a not too deep depression. Hmmmmm. I really didn't want to turn back. Rob got out and walked ahead of the cart guiding me as I drove across the bridge. It wasn't real long. Perhaps 15 feet. It's just that the half the width of the golf cart tires hung off each side of the bridge! Very tricky as there was a bit of a bend to the bridge.

We made it over and off we went. Here are some images of the Longleaf Pines that these woodpeckers make nesting cavities in. They choose trees that are over 60 years old as there will be sufficient heartwood for a cavity free of sap. Plus, many mature trees are infected with red heart fungus that softens the heartwood - making it easier to excavate!
Trees marked with white bands have nesting cavities. Another neat tidbit is that the woodpeckers will scale the outer bark off the trees above and below the cavity entrance and chip many holes around the cavity. This creates a run of sap/resin around the hole and down the tree. The resin coats the tree and helps keep predators like Rat snakes from climbing the trees.


Didn't see one woodpecker! We did feel like midgets among the longleaf pines though :)

We headed back, wondering if we could navigate the 'bridge' again. This time Rob was driving, I got out to direct him.
Things were fine until about 3' from the end, then the right back tire slipped off the bridge. We tried swinging off the right front tire in hopes of a tilted escape but the ground was a tad too low............ Stuck and embarrassed!

We were rescued. The cart was fine. But, just to make us really laugh, the rescuers nudged a small tree with their cart when backing up and it fell on them! I couldn't resist the photo opp!

I finished off the afternoon back a Lake Juniper. This time I played with Neocolor II water-soluble wax pastels on Yupo paper.

Monday at Cheraw

We arrived at Cheraw State Park around 2 p.m. on the 15th. It took a little over 3 hours, mostly on Rt. 95, then at exit 164, we headed west on Rt 52.

Living in Beaufort County, we really get an unrealistic view of South Carolina. Now I understand why our county is last on the state's list for school and other funding. We traveled through some towns that have been hit very hard in this down economy. Quite sobering.

The long drive to the park office had me itching to be unpacked and out exploring. The staff at the park rolled out the red carpet. This is my first experience as an Artist-in-Residence. I hope to have more opportunities, but I will tell you, the bar has been set!

Rob and I settled into cabin #8. That's our trusty mode of transport, compliments of the state park's golf club. We could pick up a cart each morning as early as 6 a.m., and then needed to return it by 8 p.m. Never did make it there at 6 a.m. but got pretty close a couple of days :)

Our cabin was cute. On the right side was a cement pad with a picnic table and grill that was sheltered by a live oak. The cabin had a screened porch with 2 rockers, inside we found a decent sized living/dining area that included a queen-size Murphy bed, a very small kitchen (I was so glad I made salads to take with us), a bedroom with twin beds and a mini, and I do mean mini, bathroom. All in all, we were very comfy and air conditioned.... satellite TV too!
We spent the evening down by Lake Juniper. Don't you just love that name? There are a small grouping of Cypress trees along the far shore. I understand that the head waters of Lake Juniper are loaded with Cypress.

For Tuesday, we planned to explore the Red-cockaded Woodpecker's nesting area. Stay tuned :)